Sebastian Vettel took another easy race win today, this time at the Italian Grand Prix, extending his championship lead to 53 points.
Fernando Alonso gave the home fans something to cheer about by taking second place, and Mark Webber finished on the podium for the first time in Italy.
Felipe Massa, who may find himself without a job at Ferrari when the top bosses meet later this week, took a decent fourth place and Nico Hulkenberg, who qualified an excellent third, brought his Sauber home in fifth place.
It was a disappointing day though for the likes of Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Räikkönen who, after poor qualifying sessions yesterday, could finish only ninth and eleventh respectively.
There was rain as the cars came out onto the grid, but the track was dry enough for slick tyres when the lights went out to start the race, and the threat of any precipitation had passed.
Ferrari got off to one of their traditional good, but neither Felipe Massa nor Fernando Alonso could get past pole-sitter Sebastian Vettel, who retained the lead. Massa jumped Mark Webber to get himself up into second, Webber dropped to third, and Alonso settled into fourth. Nico Hulkenberg dropped from third to fifth.
There was trouble further down the field as everybody negotiated the opening corners. Several drivers took to the escape road through the first chicane, including Sergio Perez, after he run into by Kimi Räikkönen. As a result of this contact, the Finn needed a new front wing at the end of the first lap.
Paul di Resta locked up his brakes into the second chicane and ran into the back of Romain Grosjean. This collision knocked off the Scot’s left-front wheel, and he became the first retirement.
Alonso pulled off an excellent move on Webber around the outside of the second chicane to get himself up into third on the second lap. He got past Massa a few laps later, and was up to second place.
Just as the race began to settle into a regular pattern of Vettel pulling out a gap with Alonso hanging on in case he made a mistake, there were a couple of radio calls to make things interesting.
The first involved race-leader Sebsatian Vettel, who was warned over his radio, “we’re monitoring the right front – we know it doesn’t look good”. Lewis Hamilton was told that he had a slow puncture on his right-front tyre, but with an intermittent radio, Mercedes had a little difficulty getting their driver back to the pits for an un-scheduled tyre change.
Hamilton pitted on Lap 14 in the end, forcing him to switch to a two-stop strategy. Vettel appeared to be able to manage his problem, and continued build a gap to Alonso.
Vettel made his stop at the end of Lap 23. Webber his teammate into the pit lane, but Alonso stayed out on track.
The Spaniard finally came in for his stop at the end of Lap 27, and re-emerged in second place behind Vettel. However, staying out for four laps while the rest of the field were on fresher tyres meant that Alonso now had Webber close behind him.
Hamilton made his second stop of the afternoon at the end of the Lap 38, having just set a fastest lap. He was sixth before his final stop, and emerged from the pit lane in fourteenth place with fifteen laps to go.
Ten laps from the end, Vettel had a 12-second lead over Alonso, who was now being caught by Webber. However, it was not all rosy for the Red Bull pit crew, who were having concerns about the gearboxes on both of their cars.
Meanwhile, Hamilton and Räikkönen, who had enjoyed late pit stops, were carving their way through the field, aiming to collect some points. Hamilton overtook Räikkönen out of the first chicane on Lap 49, overtook both McLaren drivers, and was hunting down Romain Grosjean and Daniel Ricciardo on the final lap.
Hamilton had one optimistic lunge at Grosjean, but eventually had to settle for ninth place. Räikkönen could manage only eleventh.
|FORMULA 1 GRAN PREMIO D’ITALIA 2013|
|1||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull||53||1:18:33.352||1||25|
|2||3||Fernando Alonso||Ferrari||53||+5.4 secs||5||18|
|3||2||Mark Webber||Red Bull||53||+6.3 secs||2||15|
|4||4||Felipe Massa||Ferrari||53||+9.3 secs||4||12|
|5||11||Nico Hulkenberg||Sauber||53||+10.3 secs||3||10|
|6||9||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes||53||+10.9 secs||6||8|
|7||19||Daniel Ricciardo||Toro Rosso||53||+32.3 secs||7||6|
|8||8||Romain Grosjean||Lotus||53||+33.1 secs||13||4|
|9||10||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||53||+33.5 secs||12||2|
|10||5||Jenson Button||McLaren||53||+38.3 secs||9||1|
|11||7||Kimi Raikkonen||Lotus||53||+38.6 secs||11|
|12||6||Sergio Perez||McLaren||53||+39.7 secs||8|
|13||12||Esteban Gutierrez||Sauber||53||+40.8 secs||16|
|14||16||Pastor Maldonado||Williams||53||+49.0 secs||14|
|15||17||Valtteri Bottas||Williams||53||+56.8 secs||18|
|16||15||Adrian Sutil||Force India||52||Brakes||17|
|17||20||Charles Pic||Caterham||52||+1 Lap||20|
|18||21||Giedo van der Garde||Caterham||52||+1 Lap||19|
|19||22||Jules Bianchi||Marussia||52||+1 Lap||21|
|20||23||Max Chilton||Marussia||52||+1 Lap||22|
|Ret||18||Jean-Eric Vergne||Toro Rosso||14||Transmission||10|
|Ret||14||Paul di Resta||Force India||0||Accident||15|